Draft act amending the Road Traffic Law and certain other acts

The AV-PL-ROAD project “Polish Road to Automation of Road Transport” implemented in 2018-2021 by a consortium consisting of: the Ministry of Infrastructure (MI), the Motor Transport Institute (ITS) and the Warsaw University of Technology (PW) and also the activities undertaken by the Connected and Autonomous Vehicles Competence Centre (CK:PAP), which was established as part of this project resulted in the development of a draft act amending the Road Traffic Law.

The changes were necessary due to the adaptation of legal provisions to the ongoing technological revolution in the transport sector related to the automation of vehicle driving and control functions. The pursuit of autonomous transport also requires adapting the law and enabling the safe implementation of innovations increasingly available on the market into road traffic, without deterioration of safety conditions. In particular, the focus was on enabling the testing of vehicles and their equipment or parts on public roads. The rules in force in this area since 2018 (provisions of Articles 65k – 65n of the Act of June 20, 1997, Road Traffic Law, Journal of Laws of 2023, item 1047, as amended) are insufficient and in popular opinion, due to their restrictiveness, block the development of initiatives related to automation. Research entities based in Poland and companies producing modern systems for motor vehicles point to the inability to test the latest technologies on Polish roads as a barrier to their development, also in the international context.

Analyses carried out regarding legal regulations in the field of automation both in Poland and other European Union countries and in international law, as well as public opinion research, commissioned by the Ministry of Infrastructure in the years 2019-2021 as part of the strategic project “Polish Road to Automation of Road Transport”, indicate the need to introduce changes in the regulations governing the use of autonomous vehicles in Poland. The need identified by the experts concerns in particular changes to the applicable law regarding conducting tests and the introduction of legal solutions allowing for the expected development of automated and autonomous traffic on Polish roads.

It is therefore necessary to change the currently applicable regulations governing research on autonomous vehicles in road conditions and to create a legal basis for the gradual introduction of other changes enabling the evolutionary automation of road transport in Poland, in line with technological progress.

The most important changes proposed in the draft act include:

  1. changing the definition of an autonomous vehicle to enable tests to be conducted regardless of the vehicle’s level of automation,
  2. the obligation to precede tests on public roads with tests in traffic off public roads,
  3. issuing a permit to conduct tests should depend, among others, on a certificate confirming that tests were carried out on the test track,
  4. issuing a permit to conduct tests should depend, among others, on: having dedicated, compulsory civil liability insurance for an entity conducting tests of products, components or parts on a public road for damages arising in connection with undesirable events during the tests,
  5. specifying the obligations of the entity that organizes the tests and imposing criminal, civil or administrative liability on it depending on the tortious act committed during the tests,
  6. launching a closed catalogue of data required to grant a permit and specifying the catalogue of reasons for not granting, withdrawing or suspending a permit to conduct tests,,
  7. waiving the requirement to have a decision on the professional registration of vehicles by the entity conducting the tests in favour of the requirement to submit appropriate declarations resulting from the provisions on the professional registration of vehicles, i.e. enabling tests to be conducted based on previously registered vehicles,
  8. replacing the obligation to consult residents about the date and route of tests with the obligation to inform them about the tests being conducted.

The above changes may also generate the need to introduce changes to other legal acts under the jurisdiction of, among others, Minister of Interior and Administration and Minister of Justice and Minister of Finance.

The authority responsible for developing the draft act amending the Road Traffic Law and certain other acts is the Ministry of Infrastructure, and the planned date of adoption of the draft by the Council of Ministers is the first quarter of 2025.

Source: www.gov.pl